The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has moved one step closer  towards building what it calls "a Web of trust."

With the publication of its Protocol for Web Description Resources (aka Powder) for content providers, the W3C seeks to make it possible to discover relevant content more efficiently, such as finding sound medical advice or trustworthy retailers. Searchers also could find content available under a particular license, such as a Creative Commons licence.

"Powder statements combined with authentication technology can help people find information that meets their own standards for quality, automatically," said Powder Working Group chairman Phil Archer. "It's been a long haul - too long really - but we're there and Powder is now a recognised web standard," Archer said in a blog entry.

Content providers use Powder descriptions, from which people can use search tools to help discover relevant content, the W3C said. A site that wants to promote the mobile-friendliness of its content, for instance, can inform the public using Powder. Content providers develop content that conforms with the W3C's MobileOK scheme, for verifying that content can be used by basic mobile devices, and use the MobileOK Checker to validate it. The checker generates Powder statements and applies them to individual pages.

In addition, content providers can make statements about groups of resources, such as pages, images, and videos on a website. Other tools, such as the i-Sieve Powder generator, create Powder statements about, for example, the mobile-friendliness of entire sites. Once the statements are in place, search engines or other tools can use them to help find mobile-friendly content.

While not guaranteeing quality or relevance, Powder statements promote accountability and are attributed to a "publisher," the W3C said.